Nod if you still haven’t decided whether you should build and iOS or Android app for your business.
Suppose this dilemma will remain relevant up till 2050 (or as long as there are two rivaling platforms out there).
To make an educated decision in 2017 we propose you take a look on the next comparison of Android vs iOS development, which includes the latest information and stats on market share, profitability, time-to-market and a good bunch of other insights.
Comparison of Android and iOS Development
Market Share & User Base
#NotSurprised: Android is still dominating the global market share:
But there’s some more data from Kantar Worldpanel that you should take into account in 2017:
- iOS devices have achieved a year-on-year growth across most regions except Germany and Urban China.
- Japan was the region where Apple has held the greatest share in 2016 with 51.7% of smartphone sales, followed by the UK – 44% and the US – 40.5%.
- While Android still holds the 57.9% of US market, they are now on their 5th consecutive year-on-year decline.
- But, in October 2016 Android has accounted for 75.2% of EU5 smartphone sales vs. iOS at 21.2%. The markets include Great Britain, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain.
- Android has also crushed the market in Brazil (94.4% share), Mexico (91.9%) and China (82.6%).
As the data shows, Android keeps luring more consumers in large emerging markets due to the large variety of devices and price options. This year, the company has also witnessed the strongest growth in the EU5 markets.
Yet, Apple manages to keep a strong user base in established and high-paying markets. It will also remain the most desirable smartphone brand in the world. Developing for iOS also means more potential revenues if you choose to make a paid product as iPhone users still spend 2.5 times more on apps than Android fans.
Here’s a quick overview of the paying iOS users by region from The State of In-App Spending report:
And here’s some more curious findings you should know:
Android users love digital utility apps (launchers, anti-virus apps, performance boosters etc) and in fact, they are ready to pay for those and spend on them 5 times more than iOS users:
If you want to develop a mobile shopping app, consider iOS development platform first:
- Building a paid or premium app? Build it for iOS first.
- Tapping into the emerging markets? An Android app will take you further here.
Bottom line: Study your target market and survey your target audience for their gadget preferences first.
Development Process and Tools
You will need to use Xcode IDE with iOS SDK to create apps for Apple products. Xcode supports different programming languages, yet Swift has been a preferable choice lately and will continue to remain so among the iOS developers into 2017.
A few benefits commonly highlighted by programmers for using Swift over Objective-C:
- It’s easier to read.
- It’s easier to maintain.
- It’s safer.
- It actually requires writing less code (and do more)
- It’s faster.
- It allows building better integrations with open source projects.
- It supports dynamic libraries.
Swift also work with Cocoa Touch – a neat API for building iOS UI elements.
One of the common disadvantages here is that Xcode only runs on Mac. So, yes, your developers will need to have a MacBook to build an iOS app. Though, of course, there are some workarounds to run Xcode on Windows.
Android developers need to go straight to Android Studio – the official IDE for the platform and grab Android SDK and the Android Virtual Device that allows you to test your apps.
Java is the main programming language you’ll be using. Bonus point if you are already familiar with it.
Which platform is easier to code on? There’s no right answer to this question. It all boils down to the developers expertise.
Fact, Android developers need more time to build a great app. Folks from Infinum conducted a great research to prove that:
Lines of Code
Android developers need to write roughly 40% more of code. Yes, a lot of that code is auto-generated…but it still needs to be properly tested and debugged.
Hours of Work
Again, Android developers spend on average 28% more time working on the project than iOS developers.
So where does that time go apart from writing more code?
- Device fragmentation. Today, there are roughly 1.300 different Android gadgets. Making sure that the app is compatible with most of them takes well…a lot of time (and frustration occasionally). For product owners, that also stands for additional app development costs. Also, Android users are not that diligent with OS updates and their gadgets run on outdated OS.
- Slower emulators. Another well-known fact – Android emulators are slower and then iOS ones.
So, yes, one of the definite advantages of iOS app development is that time-to-market is lower and you often end up paying less for the final product.
Also if you plan to hire developers in-house, expect to pay a higher salary for them. We have previously published a detailed research comparing app developers’ salaries in several major US cities. Go check it for more insights on pricing.
UX and UI Design
Apple and Android have a rather different perception of what makes a good-looking app.
While material design guidelines don’t change that frequently, Apple tends to slightly update the requirements when a newer OS rolls out. So watch out for that!
One of the common mistakes product owners make is using the same designs on both platforms, especially when porting an app from one platform to another.
Which are easier to design: Android or iOS apps?
Again, there’s no right answer to that, so let’s have a look at the core differences:
- The smallest clickable sizes are 44 pixels on iOS and 48 on Android.
- Some Android devices have a few physical buttons (e.g. back/home) that you should account for. While, Apple gadgets don’t feature those.
- Each platform has different UI and UX patterns that you are expected to use. We’ve made a comprehensive listing here.
- Different typography.
- Apple encourages designers to use a visual interface builder and storyboards in Xcode, where you can add and organize all the visual files. Android development platform doesn’t have a similar tool and you will need to write XML files, which will provide the layout guidelines for different screens/gadgets. If designer isn’t quite familiar with those, the entire process may take more time for them.
It may initially take more time and money to build your Android app, but the post-release and marketing process usually goes smoother.
The downright advantages of Android app development are the following in this case:
- Faster review in Google Play.
- Cheaper App Store features.
- Easier publication process – press the publish button in Android Studio and you have the APK file to share & publish elsewhere.
Apple is a bit peskier when it comes to app reviews and is known to reject apps that don’t meet the company’s guidelines.
Further Reading: App Store Optimization (ASO): 6 Best Practices
Android’s New Competitive Advantage For 2017: Instant Apps
Back in May last year Google has introduced a fascinating new technology called Android Instant Apps.
In a nutshell, the company wants to revolutionize app distribution and allow users to enjoy the app experience by merely clicking a link (no app download required). Users can just click the link shared with them and enjoy a certain fragment of the app.
Developers would be able to use the standard Google Play Services like location, payments, identity etc. within the instant app. The app UI will be automatically adapted for different Android gadgets (finally solving the fragmentation issue).
Instant apps, however, are not separate apps. They share the same source code, APIs, and functionality as your existing Android app. Their main feature is to modularize your app and play only parts of it as needed.
Developing for Android definitely gets more exciting in this case. As for now, this technology is still being tested. You can subscribe to get notified for beta access here.
Apple’s New Competitive Advantage: iMessage Apps
iMessage apps have started gaining the momentum in fall 2016. The recent iOS 10 update has allowed developers to build and deploy custom app extensions. With this move, Apple clearly wants to get back some of the users lost to other messaging apps like Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp, and Viber.
According to a report published by Sensor Tower, iMessage marketplace already features over 400 apps and some 1.250 sticker pads. The most popular categories are the following:
iMessage apps also open more opportunities for startups developing chatbots and AI-powered products.
As conversational design is nowhere from going flat, the future definitely holds a lot of interesting applications of this technology on both platforms.
To wrap up our iOS vs. Android development battle, here’s a quick comparison table the key new advantages of each platform:
If you already have an idea in mind, let’s chat. We’d be delighted to advise on the best platform for your product, tech stack and associated development costs.